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COVID Vaccine Hesitancy Remains Among 18 to 39 Year Olds, CDC Reports

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Notre Dame of Maryland University hosted another vaccination clinic on campus Tuesday, vaccinating more than 3,800 people this spring. But as Maryland continues to encourage vaccinations, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that some hesitancy remains among adults ages 18 to 39.

Only about a third of young people ages 18 to 39 received a vaccine as of last month. Local colleges are universities are hoping to change that.

"You can't dismiss their fears, it's natural," Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Anne Lin said.

Student Jazmin White told WJZ she did not want to get the vaccine, but needed to in order to return to campus this fall.

"I was hesitant about it because it's so new and you don't know what's going to happen in the long-term," White said.

Dr. Lin said many students and younger people are hesitant due to safety concerns, many of which are unfounded.

"Myths running around out there about affecting menstrual cycles, infertility—which, none of that is true, but that worries, particularly young people," Dr. Lin said.

The CDC reported Monday vaccination rates are highest among those 65 and older and lowest among 18- to 29-year-olds.

"The findings in this report indicate that trust in COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in their safety and effectiveness, was an important factor in the decision to get vaccinated among adults aged 18–39 years, especially for those who were unsure about or probably planning on getting vaccinated," said the CDC report. "Compared with those who were probably or definitely not planning to get vaccinated, this group was more concerned about getting COVID-19, indicating that information about vaccine safety and effectiveness might have influenced their decision to get vaccinated."

The CDC administered eight surveys to 8,410 people between March and May 2021.

"During March–May 2021, nearly one fourth of adults aged 18–39 years were unsure about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or were probably going to get vaccinated, and nearly one fourth reported that they would probably not or definitely not get vaccinated," the CDC reported. "Among adults aged 18–39 years, those who were younger, were non-Hispanic Black, had lower incomes and educational attainment, had no health insurance, and lived outside of metropolitan areas had the lowest reported vaccination rates and intent to get vaccinated."

Trust in COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in their safety and effectiveness, was an important factor for that age group as well as resuming normal social activities.

CDC vaccine table

"The risk for vaccination is incredibly tiny for young people and the benefits are enormous," Dr. Lisa Kirkland, an Emergency Medicine physician at Sinai Hospital, said. "What we're seeing now is that is, for the most part, [they are] the most common age group coming in with COVID now."

In April, the University System of Maryland announced students, faculty, and staff would be required to be vaccinated before returning in the fall. The mandate grants exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

The CDC's report suggested several actions to improve vaccination rates among younger adults, including workplace vaccination clinics, flexible hours at walk-in clinics, and paid leave.


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